High and low level stations

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Andy873

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Hi,

At the expense of sounding stupid I want to ask a very basic railway question.

What exactly in English were / are high and low level stations?

Is it as simple as you have to go down to a low level station and up for a high level station from ground level?

I've been to many stations where you walk into the entrance, get your ticket, and then walk uphill through the station to the platform you need. One example is Salford central.

Is this all to do with a platform being other than at ground level - if so, many stations are either low or high level - and yet I can't find any definition of them.

This is both an historical and modern question - but felt comfortable posting it here.

Thanks,
Andy.
 
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eastwestdivide

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As part of a station name, it's often used where there are two stations close together, but the lines and therefore the platforms are at different heights.
I've only really seen it used when there's a need to distinguish between two sets of platforms in more or less the same location.
 

PeterC

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The ones that I know of are in the South Wales coalfield. For Example Quakers Yard where the High Level station was on the Vale of Neath railway which bridged the Taff Vale Railway with the adjacent Low Level station.

A slightly different example was Blaenavon where the GWR ran up the valley floor to a terminus and the LNWR part way up the valley side to continue across the tops to Brynmawr. On nationalisation the two quite distinct Blaenavon stations were renamed High Level and Low Level.
 

Aictos

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St Pancras International being a good example as the lower platforms are served by Thameslink and the upper platforms by East Midlands Trains, Eurostar and SouthEastern.
 

edwin_m

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A surviving Valleys one is Heath, where the "main line" climbs towards Caerphilly and the Coryton branch diverges south of the stations and descends. Hence there is a significant height difference between the High Level and Low Level stations. A historic one was London Road in Nottingham, where a through High Level station was built next to the original Low Level terminus when the GN and GC routes were linked together, but Low Level still had a few passenger trains for many years afterwards (and ended up outlasting High Level in both railway and post-railway use).

It also used to be used when lines cross at a two-level station such as Tamworth and Lichfield Trent Valley - same situation as Quakers Yard I think. The two main stations in Glasgow are similar except that one line is underground. These ones aren't part of the station names these days but may be referred to by staff. The internal displays on EMT 158s show calls at Liverpool South Parkway "HL".
 

Galvanize

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For the same station...there’s a London Bridge (High Level)...the through lines to Charing Cross and Cannon Street for services out towards South East London, Kent and East Sussex, and the Low Level, Terminal station built for services towards South London, Croydon, Brighton and South Coast destinations.

It can also describe two completely separate stations on completely separate railways sometimes built by separate companies!
An example used to exist in Crystal Palace in South London.

The 1854 “low level” Station was built by the London, Brighton and South Coast, on the line’s from Sydenham, Norwood Junction, Tulse Hill, Balham, Victoria or London Bridge. It’s located just off of Anerley Hill.

The 1865 “High Level” Station built by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway as a Branch from Nunhead, passing through Lordship Lane and Upper Sydenham. The station was built in a cutting beside Crystal Palace Parade, and was connected to the Crystal Palace by an ornate Subway.

Both lines were completely independent of each other, and were competing for traffic to/from The Crystal Palace. Sadly the LC&DR route and High Level Station never fared so well, especially as it ran through quiet and affluent areas (yes even in South London they exist!)...and suffered even more so when The Palace itself burnt down in 1936. Finally in 1954, after two temporary closures after the war, the High Level Branch closed for good, and the tracks were removed two years later.

So the term “low level” for the existing Crystal Palace became redundant, and today it is a terminus for London Overground services.
 

Marton

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Retford similarly has platforms at two levels but is usually just Retford. Like Tamworth and Stafford they are at right angles to each other

Northallerton is reputed to have had a low level in the past (during WW2) but the evidence seems skimpy.
 

d9009alycidon

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In Scotland there was a great example at Whifflet (Caledonian) wherethere was an High Level Station (05/10/1964) an Island Platform on the CR Airdrie Branch and a Lower Station (Closed 05/11/1962) side platforms on the Motherwell to Perth Main Line. The only access to Whifflet Low Level station was by climbing the stairs to the High Level Platform, walking much of the length of the platform and descending the connecting stairs to the Low Level Platforms. The Airdrie branch was closed to passengers on 03/05/1943 but a sparse truncated service was maintained to the High Level station to 1964, probably to maintain the access to the Low Level platforms. Just to confuse things, in BR days the stations were renamed Whifflet Upper and Whifflet Lower
Whifflet High Level.jpg Whifflet low level.jpg
 

AndrewE

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Don't forget in a similar vein the Tyndrums: Upper and Lower
Wikipedia says
Most trains currently serving Fort William and Oban split or join at Crianlarich, with the result that separate trains both heading in the same direction generally call at Tyndrum's two stations at about the same time
 

RLBH

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Both of the Glasgow termini have low level platforms, but these are numbered in the sequence of the main station - nominally street level, though much of Central is on a viaduct and Queen Street in a cutting. In day to day usage, including on-train announcements, the low level platforms are usually (e.g.) Glasgow Central Low Level. The street-level platforms are normally referred to as High Level in announcements on trains on the low level routes, but not always on trains terminating in the street level platforms.
Don't forget in a similar vein the Tyndrums: Upper and Lower
It's technically Upper Tyndrum and Tyndrum Lower. The slightly different names are to avoid confusion, since getting on the wrong portion heading north-west could be very problematic. Tyndrum Lower has the village name first because it serves the village sligthly better, being closer and with a more frequent service.

Northbound, the Fort William train is just far enough behind the Oban portion that you can - theoretically - get off the Oban train and leg it to Upper Tyndrum in time to catch the Fort William train.
 

swt_passenger

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The Portsmouth and Southsea through platforms are often referred to as the 'high level' - it's a bit like a mini London Bridge situation. Just day to day usage though, its all the same station...
 

Y Ddraig Coch

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Shotton also has high and low level. The high level goes over the low level between Wrexham and Bidston, the low level is the North Wales Coast mainline.
 

RichJF

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East Grinstead in its prime is a perfect example.

The high level platforms were east- west & served the higher (Physcially) Three Bridges to T Wells line. This came out of a cutting and was on an embankment to the east.
The low-level platforms served the Lewes - London route and were in a cutting but significantly lower than the aforementioned platforms. There was a curve connecting the two lines as well (St Margarets Curve).
EastGrinsteadLL(Aug'65)-1.jpg 9651285737_2f09f32c53_b.jpg
 
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eastwestdivide

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Rob F

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Nottingham had London Road and London Road High Level was added when the GNR - GCR link line was built to take GNR trains into Victoria.
 

30907

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Stratford and Holborn Viaduct both had Low Level platforms (Holborn closed a century ago!), but AFAIK the main stations weren't referred to as High Level.

Savernake and Marlborough had, IIRC, separate HL (ex MSWJR) and LL (GWR) stations. I presume they were named post 1923 when the GWR absorbed the MSWJR, and eventually there was some rationalisation (certsinly at Marlborough). The stations were at least adjacent, unlike the Crystal Palace example.

Wolverhampton HL and LL were adjacent and survived rather longer.

Cromer GER was Cromer High (a label I associate with Scotland), but the MGNR was Beach.

I suppose the definition might be
- two parts of same station OR of adjacent stations on different lines. And Crystal Palace is just an exception - but there is a pretty steep hill between them!

PS how could I have forgotten Holbeck on my local line!
 
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Fawkes Cat

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To summarise for the OP - it's nothing to do with street level - it's where there is more than one set of platforms separated by level. The higher ones are 'high level' and the lower ones 'low level'.

At Liverpool Central the old station was made up of the high level station with terminal platforms in a cutting, and the low level station with through (CLC to Mersey Railway) platforms in tunnel. With the closure of the high level station and the reconstruction of the Mersey Railway to become the Liverpool Loop/Wirral Line, and the CLC lines being joined to the former L&Y lines to Exchange by the link line, I think I am right in saying (or possibly it's wishful thinking on my part) that the low level station continued with that name, and the new Wirral Line platform became the deep level station.
 

ChiefPlanner

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Hengoed and Crumlin in the South Wales Valleys were rather impressive ones - fine if changing downhill , a fearsome slog uphill ....
 

Gwenllian2001

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Hengoed and Crumlin in the South Wales Valleys were rather impressive ones - fine if changing downhill , a fearsome slog uphill .../Q
Hengoed and Crumlin in the South Wales Valleys were rather impressive ones - fine if changing downhill , a fearsome slog uphill ....
Hengoed wasn't too bad. Aberdare was a bit of a trek. Builth Road was quite easy. Crumlin was in a class of it's own. I suppose that Aberthaw must have been the most awkward with the Low Level station away out of sight at the end of a muddy path.
 

Altfish

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Warrington Bank Quay used to have a low level station.

Smethwick Galton Road has high and low level stations
 

AM9

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Stratford in BR days had the Woolwich North branch platforms (1&2 ISTR)* which in the '50s & '60s were known as Stratford Low Level.
* now serving the International & Beckton/Woolwich branches of the DLR.
 

Bevan Price

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Warrington Bank Quay used to have a low level station.

Smethwick Galton Road has high and low level stations
Galton Bridge, please...

And I would not regard the Helensbugh stations as "close" - it is a longish walk between them - must be at least 5 minutes. I did it several times when 37s used to operate on the West Highland.
 

racyrich

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West Ham has high and low levels, even if not so named.
The c2c Twitter feed always calls it West Ham High Level and is always abused for doing so.
 

Peter Mugridge

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Wolverhampton Low Level ( now long since closed but still very recognisable ) seen from Wolverhampton...
 

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daodao

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A surviving Valleys one is Heath, where the "main line" climbs towards Caerphilly and the Coryton branch diverges south of the stations and descends. Hence there is a significant height difference between the High Level and Low Level stations.
The proximity of Heath High and Low Level stations was advantageous to me on 1 occasion about 30 years ago; I mistakenly caught a Rhymney Valley line train when travelling home to Whitchurch from Queen St, as the Coryton branch train had been delayed and the trains were out of sequence. I was able to catch my intended train at Heath Low Level after alighting at High Level; at least I was going downhill.

Another former example not yet mentioned is Middlewood: the now closed GCR/NSR line station only had the suffix Higher added after BR was formed, and the LNWR station, still in use, was never identified as Lower.
 
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big all

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East Grinstead in its prime is a perfect example.

The high level platforms were east- west & served the higher (Physcially) Three Bridges to T Wells line. This came out of a cutting and was on an embankment to the east.
The low-level platforms served the Lewes - London route and were in a cutting but significantly lower than the aforementioned platforms. There was a curve connecting the two lines as well (St Margarets Curve).
View attachment 62688 View attachment 62689

ironically part off the old high level track bed is now a bypass road named beeching way as the doctor was a local man
 
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Walkden used to have two separate stations - nearby, but not directly connected.
Walkden High Level was the ex-L&Y station, still in use today as plain Walkden.
Walkden Low Level was on the ex-L&NW line from Bolton Great Moor St to Manchester Exchange.
The High and Low Level designations were introduced by the LMS to distinguish the two following the 1923 Grouping.
 
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